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May 13, 2014

Fraser student a filmmaking star

Senior selected to attend D.C. journalism program

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

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Fraser student a filmmaking star
Fraser High School senior Andrew Sokolowski, right, will travel to Washington, D.C., this August as one of 11 Journalism All-Star students nationwide chosen to participatein the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. FHS broadcast journalism and English teacher Jamie Flanagan, left, nominated Sokolowski for the award and will visit the nation’s capital with him.

FRASER — Many notable events that occurred at Fraser High School over the last three years have most likely been documented on video with senior Andrew Sokolowski behind the lens.

With his Canon 70D camera, Sokolowski has captured this time in the school’s era to be immortalized.

His next documentary will center on his experience when he travels to Washington, D.C., this summer as one of 11 Journalism All-Star students nationwide chosen to participate in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. Sokolowski was recognized for the honor at the May 5 Fraser Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs are classroom programs, after-school programs and clubs from around the country that produce original, inspiring reports about how national and global issues impact local communities.

The trip is set for Aug. 7-10 and will include a tour of the White House and a visit to the Newseum, a news museum that features exhibits, programs and also serves as a forum for First Amendment study, exploration and education.

“It’s really cool,” said FHS teacher Jamie Flanagan, who also will make the trip. “It’s a tribute to the milestones in journalism and big media events.”

This will be Sokolowski’s first time in D.C. It has crossed his mind that he could meet President Barack Obama while at the White House, but he’ll play it cool.

“He’s just a person, too,” the soon-to-be-FHS graduate said. “It would be an extremely exciting experience. Thrilling.” Sokolowski  is “definitely going to shoot a lot of video,” when in the nation’s capital.

The student has studied news reporting for the past three years in Flanagan’s broadcast journalism class at FHS and will put that curriculum to use while in the summer workshop.

“We try to touch on everything,” Flanagan said. That includes print journalism, learning how to formulate and ask questions, lighting, how to film a piece, proper use of microphones, and more. Some students like the reporting side of news while others prefer the technical aspects behind it. Flanagan reminds his students to look for the “wow” in a story.

“What impresses you will probably impress your readers,” he said. “People say newspapers are dying, but the ability to communicate efficiently isn’t.”

Sokolowski’s interest isn’t so much in broadcast journalism, but filmmaking. His goal is to become the next Steven Spielberg, but with his own style.

“Andrew is a true cinematographer,” said Flanagan, who nominated Sokolowski for the summer workshop. “I thought Andrew would represent the school and the program very well. It makes me happy to see him doing well and to see him recognized outside the four walls of the school.”

One of Sokolowski’s latest works, available on YouTube, is “A Moment To Remember” and tells the story of a young couple who attend their prom and the young girl becomes the victim of texting and driving.

“I knew prom was coming up,  and I know that issue should be addressed,” said Sokolowski.

Taking a note from Spielberg’s 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” Sokolowski used blue hues throughout the production.

“I believe blue pops,” the young filmmaker said. “I believe blue comes off as emotional.”

Sokolowski works on his projects with other students in class, including script writers and storyboard artists who are brought in before filming begins. Sokolowski started out “with a pretty low-level camera.” In a few years, he learned about frame rates, how to edit a sequence and more.

The first motion picture Sokolowski remembers seeing in a movie theater was the first “Toy Story.” “Jurassic Park” also left an impression, and movie-making eventually became his passion.

“When we’re in the theater, we want to be engaged and brought into the film,” he said. “Every story has been told. You’re literally just telling a story differently.”

To date, Sokolowski has won awards in local, state and national competitions for a variety of productions including news reports, public service announcements, short films, silent movies and documentaries.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.